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What To Do About The Dmv Required Medical Exam

PA Pennsylvania physical exam required drivers license required on-the-job driving

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#1 Bedtime Barbie

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 02:34 PM

I'm feeling pretty lost at ths point. I need to drive to do my new job, the only decent job I've been able to get. My state (PA) requires a physical exam and doctor verification for the learner's permit application. It has a section that says "Please check any of the following that would prevent control of a motor vehicle." Narcolepsy is one of the boxes that can be checked. I don't want to tell the DMV I'm narcoleptic; I don't have cateplexy and I feel like I have things under control. I just don't know how I can learn to drive with out a permit, but any doctor I get is going to need to get my health record I would assume. Any thoughts? Should I explain the problem to my potential employer (I'm in the training program)?



#2 DeathRabbit

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 03:42 PM

It's not going to "prevent" you from driving right? I wouldn't check it. As long as you can drive without risking a mishap.



#3 Hank

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 04:14 PM

That is a tough one that I wrestled with. I ultimately deferred to doing everything up front and cards on the table. I drive a company leased car for business travel and I am required to keep a clean driving record. I was concerned I could lose my job after I received my diagnosis.

Here are my reason for my decision:

- without informing my employer, I would not be protected under the ADA (Americans with Disability Act).
- you cannot ask for accommodations if you have not told them about having the illness/symptoms
- if anything happened, and I had withheld the truth for my empoyer, it could be cause for dismissal
- I would not have peace of mind having that skeleton in my closet
- Narcolepsy is a medical condition, not a character flaw. I will not live with N being a "secret" to be ashamed of. And I will not tell anyone who does not need to know.
- If you have already been hired, and they have more than 50 employees, they have to follow ADA guidelines
- you cannot be fired for having a medical condition. You can be fired for lying.
- When telling the truth, you have recourse if you are fired. If you lie, you have no recourse and make it easy for someone who would fire you for your diagnosis.

My company granted me reasonable accommodations for Cataplexy, including "not" calling an ambulance if I collapse.

Ultimately, the decision is yours and you know your sittuation best.



#4 Bedtime Barbie

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 06:46 AM

The issue is that it will be my doctor that checks it, so I feel like I don't have much choice other than trying to get a license somehow without learning with a permit. I really don't know how the DMV will take it if that box is checked. I'm hoping I can work it out with my doctor and she can write a comment that I should be able to drive and the DMV will let it slide so I can go on being a regular person at work. I'm in the training program right now and I'm not technically employed yet, so I'm not sure how much the ADA covers me right now. It seems like my only choice is the go through the system the way I'm supposed to and play it by ear.

Thank you all for your replies!



#5 Hank

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 09:07 AM

The issue is that it will be my doctor that checks it, so I feel like I don't have much choice other than trying to get a license somehow without learning with a permit. I really don't know how the DMV will take it if that box is checked. I'm hoping I can work it out with my doctor and she can write a comment that I should be able to drive and the DMV will let it slide so I can go on being a regular person at work. I'm in the training program right now and I'm not technically employed yet, so I'm not sure how much the ADA covers me right now. It seems like my only choice is the go through the system the way I'm supposed to and play it by ear.
Thank you all for your replies!


It sounds like you have made your decision.

I do not think there is a way to actuallyget your license without a learner's permit.

In my experience, hiding something makes me appear guilty of something. You are not guilty because you have a medical diagnosis.
Conducting yourself as though you are guilty and need to "hide" will send the clear message to your prospective employer that you are not trustworthy, which is a bigger problem than having a medical diagnosis. Just like in politics, the cover-up is worse than the offense.

The biggest problem for me, in terms of driving, was pre-diagnosis. I did not know why I became so sleepy while driving. I did not know how to manage my symptoms. Since diagnosis, I know why and I know how to manage it.

With a correct diagnosis, proper treatment and self awareness, your risk is minimized. You can then look anyone straight in the eye and say I have a medical condition, I am correctly treated and I know how to manage it.

Narcolepsy is already hits us hard in our self-esteem. I will not make that worse by skulking around like I have something to be ashamed for. I do not and neither do you. I say this because I had to pull myself up by the boot straps and get on with it. I will live with this for the rest of my life- I better get good at dealing with it head on. I will not live my life being ashamed for a medical diagnosis. My symptoms were my deepest shame and I refuse to participate in that.

#6 DeathRabbit

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 04:11 PM

Oh I missed this is Pennslyvania. Yeah, check the box. Down here in Alabama, if your leg is off, you walk into the job interview with a convincing prosthesis and tell them your knee is just sore. At will states: they can not hire or fire you simply because they don't like your face.



#7 Bedtime Barbie

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 07:43 AM

Pennsylvania is also an at will state; they can fire you because they don't like your face as well. I know they will not employ me if I can't get a driver's license because it's something I'm going to have to do for the job, even though it wasn't in the job description. Aside from not being able to drive, I don't think telling them that I have N will make any difference in my employment status, but I don't want to be treated differently while I'm there. I wouldn't say I'm ashamed of it, but I feel like I can can do the work just as well as anyone else and I don't want to be treated like I can't even if people aren't consciously doing it. I just want to make it as little a part of my life as possible. To your point, Hank, I do feel like I've come across as a bit flaky because of the way I've had to answer questions, mostly about why I don't drive. I haven't lied or anything; I've just been vague.



#8 Hank

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 09:45 AM

http://www.nolo.com/...tion-30022.html

Even if your are in an "at will" state, as I am also, you cannot be fired for a reason that violates Federal law. If you were fired for your diagnosis, that would be discrimination, even in an at will state like PA.

So, if you requested a reasonable accommodation for your illness, like a short break on a long drive, you could then take a short break.

Without that accommodation, you could be fired for taking that short break.

If you were fired for requesting that accommodation, and a court determined that the request was reasonable, you would have recourse.

The actuality of you taking all this to court is unlikely, because it is expensive. The actuality of your employer firing you for a reasonable request is also unlikely, because that could be expensive for them as well.

Does your employer employ more than 50 people- if so, they have more rules to follow, even in at at will state.

If you are viewed as flaky, they could consider that good cause to fire you. If, however, you requested a reasonable accommodation to minimize your flakiness, you would have some protection.

For example, I routinely give group presentations on science related stuff. Cataplexy can interrupt my speech briefly. When this happens, I have been viewed as unprepared or nervous, which negatively impacts my credibility.
I have received a resonable accommodation that I may need brief pauses while speaking. I will usually cover this with taking a sip of water to make it look for natural. So, I am now protected from the accusation of being unprepared, unless I actually am unprepared.

This has helped me and reduced my stress level and anxiety about presenting. When I take a brief pause, it is for a medical reason, not lack or preparation or nervousness. My professional reputation is intact and I am viewed more positively.

I did not discuss my diagnosis with my employer. I did discuss that I had a medical reason for taking a brief pause or break requested by my physicians. That is all they need to know.

#9 DeathRabbit

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 10:22 AM

See that's thing though. At will states don't have to give a reason. Even if you request medical leave, and you get fired, the burden of proof lies on you to prove it was because of your request. Which of course is practically impossible. I know two people who were fired on FMLA.



#10 CarlaWilS

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 12:30 PM

Hank, I'm curious about how you told your employer about your condition. I'll be moving to a new state and (hopefully) getting a new job. It'll be the first time I've interviewed for jobs since being diagnosed, so i have some questions. and if Bedtime Barbie decides to tell her employer, she may have similar questions. Did you mention your condition when you were being interviewed or only after you had been offered the job? You said you didn't tell your employer everything, what exactly did you tell them? How did you frame it? I think one of my biggest concerns is telling my employer or potential employer that I have N and then they don't understand it and decide to not offer me a job because they think I'll be falling asleep all the time. I work in kitchens as a baker/pastry chef so I work longish hours and I'm on my feet the whole time. An employer would be less likely to hire me for that kind of work if they think I'll always be tired, especially for entry level work. I'm learning how to manage my symptoms, but I'm not quite there yet. I just don't know how to approach this with potential employers.

#11 Bedtime Barbie

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 01:22 PM

I think one of our biggest set backs is that so few people actually know what to expect from a narcoleptic and that makes it very difficult to know who you can tell and trust. If an employer thinks it means you're just going to fall asleep on the job all the time, like DeathRabbit said, they will just say they fired you because they didn't like your face and that's entirely legal.

 

I've been trying to think about accommodations that I could actually use. I'm going to be selling insurance and I'm supposed to drive to people's houses to give presentations. My symptoms are worse after I wake up, so the 20 minute nap thing only exacerbates my problem, and if I took a break while driving I could be late and make a bad impression to my clients. I do wonder, though, if I would be allowed to request all my clients meet with me at the office. It's kind of a tricky thing because it's 100% commission with employment based on making quotas, so that could really limit me. It's just not one of those easily accommodated things in this case, at least not that I can see. Right now I'm hoping Pennsylvania lets me get my permit so I won't have to worry about it.



#12 CarlaWilS

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 05:39 PM

In Indiana, you only have to give up your license if you have an accident as a result of narcolepsy. Once you're accident free for 6 months you can go off of probation. Pennsylvania may have a similar law, so when you go in for the medical examination before getting your permit, you can explain that your N is controlled and you haven't had an accident because of it. The doctor may still need to mark that you have N, but can hopefully add a note saying that it's controlled. If you are still worried about getting tired when you drive, I know the ADA allows for a 20 min break to nap for every 8 hrs (to my knowledge--it may actually be a different time frame, but the important thing is that you're supposed to be allowed a nap). Since the driving time is included in paid time (I'm assuming), I don't see why you couldn't negotiate extra time for driving in case you need to take that 20 mins while you're on the road.

#13 Hank

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 07:12 PM

Hank, I'm curious about how you told your employer about your condition. I'll be moving to a new state and (hopefully) getting a new job. It'll be the first time I've interviewed for jobs since being diagnosed, so i have some questions. and if Bedtime Barbie decides to tell her employer, she may have similar questions. Did you mention your condition when you were being interviewed or only after you had been offered the job? You said you didn't tell your employer everything, what exactly did you tell them? How did you frame it? I think one of my biggest concerns is telling my employer or potential employer that I have N and then they don't understand it and decide to not offer me a job because they think I'll be falling asleep all the time. I work in kitchens as a baker/pastry chef so I work longish hours and I'm on my feet the whole time. An employer would be less likely to hire me for that kind of work if they think I'll always be tired, especially for entry level work. I'm learning how to manage my symptoms, but I'm not quite there yet. I just don't know how to approach this with potential employers.

Yowza- that's a lot of questions. Let me give this my best shot.

I have been with my company for over 10 years before my diagnosis last year. I started before we had children and my symptoms were annoying but manageable. After children, it got rough. I attributed the worsening of symptoms to lack of sleep and a general increase of demands on me.

I have been viewed as a high performer, committed, intelligent but with some annoying quirks. Like forgetfulness, inconsistently late for deadlines, completely missing random e-mails. When it comes to long projects on spreadsheets, my work quality became unreliable and inaccurate. But as far as managing situations, strategic thinking and problem solving, I have been like a savant.

So, last year when I was going though diagnosis and undoing the damage of a wrong diagnosis, I took short term disability. Before returning, my doctor helped me craft some "reasonable accommodations":
1. when travelling (especially across time zones) I am allowed to travel the day/evening before. This gives me time to adjust and compensate for the time change. It also eliminates the early morning drive to the airport and rushing is a trigger for my Cataplexy.
2. if I am ever accused of being drunk or drug use (this has happened) I will submit to a drug test to protect myself before any corrective action is taken. Cataplexy makes my speech slur and my face slack, so I sometimes look/sound drunk.

Then, this year, I went back out on medical leave when overhauling my medication. As a side effect, I went into a severe clinical depression. This gave me time to learn and understand my illness a lot more. Before I returned, I requested additional accommodations:
1. at the onset of Cataplexy, I am allowed to sit.
2. at the onset of Cataplexy, I am allowed to take a brief pause when speaking.
3. when presenting in a time limit, I am allowed flexibility so I am not rushed (this reduces the likelihood of cataplexy for me)
4. if I collapse, I do not require medical attention to release my employer from liability. I did not want someone starting CPR on me during cataplexy.

I have not asked for any accommodations regarding sleep, since I have learned ways to manage this on my own. I have never discussed Narcolepsy, only Cataplexy. Of course, they go hand in hand. Somehow, Cataplexy seems more shocking and less subject to they eye-roll that everyone is tired.

I did not want Cataplexy to be viewed as an "anxiety attack" so I continue to clarify. Fortunately, since I am correctly treated I have fewer quirks and my performance is returning to what it was before mis-diagnosis (which was devastating for me- just totally screwed me up).

Essentially, as a pastry chef, you would be not different from a diabetic who gets hypoglycemic and needs a few minutes to take care of that. You don't see a lot of diabetics as worried as we are about being "found out".

Your employer is more interested in your character and integrity and work ethic. Look them straight in the eye, tell them you have a medical condition and this is how you manage it. Confidence draws out respect. Hiding draws out suspicion.

For interviewing, don't tell them anything until you have been hired.

#14 CarlaWilS

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 07:56 AM

Yowza- that's a lot of questions. Let me give this my best shot.

I have been with my company for over 10 years before my diagnosis last year. I started before we had children and my symptoms were annoying but manageable. After children, it got rough. I attributed the worsening of symptoms to lack of sleep and a general increase of demands on me.

I have been viewed as a high performer, committed, intelligent but with some annoying quirks. Like forgetfulness, inconsistently late for deadlines, completely missing random e-mails. When it comes to long projects on spreadsheets, my work quality became unreliable and inaccurate. But as far as managing situations, strategic thinking and problem solving, I have been like a savant.

So, last year when I was going though diagnosis and undoing the damage of a wrong diagnosis, I took short term disability. Before returning, my doctor helped me craft some "reasonable accommodations":
1. when travelling (especially across time zones) I am allowed to travel the day/evening before. This gives me time to adjust and compensate for the time change. It also eliminates the early morning drive to the airport and rushing is a trigger for my Cataplexy.
2. if I am ever accused of being drunk or drug use (this has happened) I will submit to a drug test to protect myself before any corrective action is taken. Cataplexy makes my speech slur and my face slack, so I sometimes look/sound drunk.

Then, this year, I went back out on medical leave when overhauling my medication. As a side effect, I went into a severe clinical depression. This gave me time to learn and understand my illness a lot more. Before I returned, I requested additional accommodations:
1. at the onset of Cataplexy, I am allowed to sit.
2. at the onset of Cataplexy, I am allowed to take a brief pause when speaking.
3. when presenting in a time limit, I am allowed flexibility so I am not rushed (this reduces the likelihood of cataplexy for me)
4. if I collapse, I do not require medical attention to release my employer from liability. I did not want someone starting CPR on me during cataplexy.

I have not asked for any accommodations regarding sleep, since I have learned ways to manage this on my own. I have never discussed Narcolepsy, only Cataplexy. Of course, they go hand in hand. Somehow, Cataplexy seems more shocking and less subject to they eye-roll that everyone is tired.

I did not want Cataplexy to be viewed as an "anxiety attack" so I continue to clarify. Fortunately, since I am correctly treated I have fewer quirks and my performance is returning to what it was before mis-diagnosis (which was devastating for me- just totally screwed me up).

Essentially, as a pastry chef, you would be not different from a diabetic who gets hypoglycemic and needs a few minutes to take care of that. You don't see a lot of diabetics as worried as we are about being "found out".

Your employer is more interested in your character and integrity and work ethic. Look them straight in the eye, tell them you have a medical condition and this is how you manage it. Confidence draws out respect. Hiding draws out suspicion.

For interviewing, don't tell them anything until you have been hired.

I know I ask a lot of questions, so sorry about that haha I just have so many of them bouncing around in my head and not many people I know can answer them. Thank you so much for your thorough response. It helps a lot. I'll definitely be talking to my doctor about what accommodations I may need. My cataplexy is mild and I hope it stays that way, so my main problem is fatigue and sleep attacks. Sorry I got off topic!



#15 Hank

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 10:08 AM

Ask away- I ask alot of question too. Since you also have Cataplexy, I have found that others (especially at work) are more accepting of Cataplexy accommodations than Narcolepsy accommodations.

I can say honestly that I can better manage Cataplexy when I am well rested. "sleep/ sleepiness" has so many negative associations with it in the work place. There is such a strong tie between the perception of sleepy, tired, fatigue, lazy, unmotivated. They are almost viewed as interchangeable. I am very very careful about the words I use to describe my illness.

For example:
I have a rare medical condition that I manage with medication, exercise, diet and sometimes a brief rest (I never say nap). Sometimes I will need a break to manage my symptoms. Sometimes I experience a loss of muscle strength which can progress to a collapse if I am not careful. So, these accommodations will help me to be careful and manage my symptoms so that I can do my job well.

Although true, I would never say- sometimes I get really tired and need a nap. Or I have Narcolepsy like those dogs on Youtube who suddenly fall asleep (when it is really cataplexy, not falling asleep).

I am very careful that I am the one who defines my symptoms and how I manage them. I will not allow myself to become the guy who is always tired and needs a nap.

I never go out late with co-worker for 2 reasons. 1- I never go out late. 2- If I did, I would be a mess the next day, and they probably will be also. I do not want to give the perception that their "tired" and my "tired" have the same cause.

#16 drago

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 08:01 PM

I'm feeling pretty lost at ths point. I need to drive to do my new job, the only decent job I've been able to get. My state (PA) requires a physical exam and doctor verification for the learner's permit application. It has a section that says "Please check any of the following that would prevent control of a motor vehicle." Narcolepsy is one of the boxes that can be checked. I don't want to tell the DMV I'm narcoleptic; I don't have cateplexy and I feel like I have things under control. I just don't know how I can learn to drive with out a permit, but any doctor I get is going to need to get my health record I would assume. Any thoughts? Should I explain the problem to my potential employer (I'm in the training program)?

 

 

I would pass the buck on this one: with the exception of North Carolina (the lovely state in which I live), all states that have laws on the book specific to narcolepsy defer to the wisdom of a physician. Have your neurologist fill out the health form; since each case of Narcolepsy is different, the treating physician indicates if you have the ability to drive.

 

drago



#17 exanimo

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Posted 19 July 2013 - 10:53 AM

As far as I know, if your doctor checks N, they will have to note whether or not it is controlled. If it is, it shouldn't be a problem. Normally they would just put you on a probationary time - nd once you clear that, all is good.

As for your job, if you don't see any reasonable accommodations, that's fine. But it is always possible that something will come up and you might get kicked for it later.

For example, I have two employers. Both are agencies that send workers (me) to clients homes ( I provide in home care to elderly). I had my main job before being diagnosed - and I never briought it up once I had my diagnosis. I applied for a second agency, and I did tell them- they just had a general medical form in the employment packet. I wrote that I had narcolepsy. The gal briefly asked her supervisor about it, who asked me if it affected my driving - I said no and she said that it was fine.

So back to my first job, which I still work at. I am often late and sometimes inconsistent with my start times - which was brought up with my supervisor and her supervisor. Basically if I didn't fix it they said they would fire me.

I could have brought up my N right there - but I didn't. But if I had it would have given me the option to have more flexibility with start times; and protect me in the future. As it was, I didn't feel there were any accommodations but now I see there are. But because I didn't inform them or make a request, I just try to schedule my clients no earlier than 12 pm. Which for the most part works all right.

It stresses me out considerably though because they could fire me for any small tardiness. :/

#18 Higgybella32

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 10:54 AM

I just found this. I don't have narcolepsy but I have years of experience with a disability that can't be hidden in any way. My son has narcolepsy and we are in the process of developing some accommodations for school. I am on my phone right now but I will add to this later today since there are other avenues as well- even in AL and PA!